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A brother and sister have become among the first Americans to be convicted for sending spam email. Jeremy Jaynes, 30, and Jessica DeGroot, 28, were found guilty of bombarding AOL subscribers with hundreds of thousands of junk emails.

The duo were convicted under Virginia law which bans sending emails using false email addresses. A jury cleared a third defendant, Richard Rutkowski, of any wrongdoing, AP reports.

The court heard Jaynes made $24m from sales of worthless products such as an "internet history eraser" and information about "how to obtain funds from Fed-Ex". The jury recommended Jaynes should be jailed for nine years and his sister DeBroot fined $7,500 for their crimes; but sentencing, due early next year, remains the responsibility of a judge.

Virginia prosecutors described the case as the US's "first felony prosecution of Internet spam distributors", an observation that might come as some surprise to Howard Carmack (AKA the Buffalo spammer). Carmack was jailed for seven years in May after his March 2004 conviction for spamming-related offences (forgery, identity theft and falsifying business records). ®

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